Unless you have been living somewhere incredibly remote, or actively working to avoid hearing any news, you will know that former actress Meghan Markle is marrying Prince Harry on Saturday, 19 May 2018 at Windsor Castle. While I don’t think that it will be quite the event that William and Catherine’s wedding was but it is still going to be fairly big news wise. I for one will be waking up before dawn to watch the whole wedding (and potentially live blogging and/or Instagram storying it, stay tuned for more info), and am incredibly excited to watch. Today I am recommending 4 books to get you ready for the upcoming royal wedding!
Ironically, I haven’t included a Harry or Meghan biography. There is a new Meghan biography that recently came out, but alas, I’m still on the waiting list at the library. I have also read Katie Nicholl’s 2018 Prince Harry biography, but I wouldn’t exactly recommend it- there’s nothing wrong with it, but if you have kept up with royal news in any way for the last 5-10 years, none of it is a revelation.
Kate: The Future Queen, Katie Nicholl
Although Katie’s biography of Catherine doesn’t drop any bombshells either, it is good view on someone outside of the aristocracy entering the royal family. While she is often in the news, it’s more the clothing she wears than who she is (not that I don’t love her style… Pinterest can attest to that), and it’s a quick look at the person who will most likely be Queen Consort within 20ish years. I don’t think that it will tell you anything entirely shocking, but you may learn some tidbits and factoids about Catherine that you didn’t know before. My copy is the original 2013 version, but there have been several updates to include George and Charlotte (and possibly Louis now?!). The other large reason I wanted to include it here? Meghan and Catherine are also compared all of the time- dear media, get a new theme for your articles! I thoroughly adore Catherine and all that she quietly accomplishes, and I think that she is getting a bit of unfair attention when she has a very different role than Meghan will. (This isn’t an indepth biography, but I do appreciate that not everyone has 10-15 hours to put to reading one book.)
Prince William: Born to Be King, Penny Junor
Prince William, 2nd in line to the throne, father of 3 kids under 5, and now best man for Prince Harry! Penny Junor is a British journalist who has written several books on the British Royal Family, including biographies of both of WIlliam’s parents as well as the House of Windsor as a whole. Many criticisms of this book stem from the fact that William specifically strives to avoid any controversy, and that it isn’t overly exciting. However, one of the things that I love most about William and Catherine is that they don’t look for additional attention or publicity, and I appreciate how hard working William has been in his adulthood. He is certainly in a very particular and unique position of having to fill his time meaningfully for decades until he takes the throne, and this is a good look at his journey thus far. If you are at all interested in Harry, you will know that William is a part of that package deal, as they are incredibly close brothers.
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch, Sally Bedell Smith
This is not only one of my favourite biographies, but one of my favourite books period. I picked this up one Saturday morning and finished it sometime in the afternoon- I absolutely could not put it down! Although the wedding on the 19th will be all about Meghan and Harry, this whole show in general is about Her Majesty- a woman who has led a fascinating and interesting life. Because Her Majesty was born in such a different time than most of us, she has a very different outlook on life, one that very much dictates her actions and behaviour. A lot of things in the past have been somewhat blamed on the Queen for a lack of outward emotion, but when you’ve lived through London being bombed, family members killed in terrorist attacks, continual threats on your life (and the lives of your loved ones), and you have seen more political upheaval and change across how many countries, you might not be the most excitable person either. Starting in childhood and moving through the decades to the present, we follow the Queen as she grows from Lilibet, heiress presumptive, to Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Nations, etc. Unlike most other heads of state, her Majesty doesn’t have a whole lot of power to act on her own, and has to be very thoughtful and measured in what she does to avoid causing turmoil while still sharing her thoughts and opinions. I hope that I can learn to strike that quiet balance in my own life, sooner rather than later! Even if you are not a Royalist but you enjoy biographies, you should be reading this.
The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume I, Robert Lacey
Okay, this is not really related to the Royal Wedding at all, but rather The Crown (available on Netflix) and the British monarchy as a whole! This is a collection of 10 essays, each of which covers one of the 10 episodes of season 1 (1947-1955 in history), and uncovers and unpacks a lot of what couldn’t be included in the show due to time constraints. What I love about this book is that is goes indepth on topics that are only lightly touched upon in the show, like Cecil Beaton photographing the royal family. So much of the monarchy today is based on Her Majesty, the Queen, and these essays delve into what made her into the Queen and person that she is today. It’s also just perfect for anyone who is interested in history, and as an historian, obviously I am! (I’m hoping to do a full review on this at some point in the next few months for anyone interested!)
Are you planning on watching the Royal Wedding on 19 May?